Get our newsletters

Doylestown Symphonic Winds performs at Delaware Valley University


Music teachers, retired music educators and other musically inclined members of the community from all walks of life have spent their summer vacation doing what they love – rehearsing, together.
On Friday evening, the group of 50 musicians – 80 percent of whom are music teachers or retired music educators – will present a free concert for the public for the first time in two years.
Until practices began this summer, said Gina Lenox, a French horn player and conductor of the Doylestown Symphonic Winds, “We hadn’t played together since July 2019.
“It’s so good to play and hear live music again,” she said.
Lenox and her husband, Mike Drobish, are both instrumental music teachers. Lenox teaches at Log College Middle School in Warminster, and Drobish teaches at Lawrence High School in New Jersey.
When Drobish, a saxophone player, sent out his annual email asking who wanted to take part in the group this summer, Lenox said, “people jumped” at the chance, after not being able to do so last summer because of the pandemic. He got an almost 100 percent response rate within a few days, she said, “because people were so eager to play.”
Doylestown Symphonic Winds practices on Monday evenings in the summer at Delaware Valley University in Doylestown and performs an annual concert in late July or early August, with the exception of last year.
The 20 percent of the group’s musicians who are not music educators come from all walks of life, Lenox said. “They’re everything. It’s a true community group.”
This year’s concert is set for 7:30 p.m. Friday, July 30 in the university’s life sciences building theater, where there’s plenty of space for social distancing. “We’d love to see people in the seats, Lenox said. “If not, we’ve accomplished half of our mission, getting people back together to play.”

The concert program this year includes plenty of fun, entertaining music, Lenox said. Admission is free, but donations are welcome to help pay for music and insurance. The group has given out two $500 scholarships to local high school students in each of the last couple of years but did not do it this year. Lenox said that will likely happen again next year.
“Our big piece, the finale, is a newer work – I try to pull in newer pieces so it’s interesting to our players – ‘Come Sunday’ by Omar Thomas, a young, up and coming African American composer who’s really making a name for himself,” Lenox said. “If you’ve ever stepped into a Southern church and been moved to get up on your feet,” she said, describing the feel of the work. “It’s very jazzy,” she added.
“It’s truly like gospel meets classical,” said Drobish, who was educated at a jazz college and did not have an opportunity to play in a classical wind symphony. “It’s interesting the way he’s fused those two together. … It’s definitely a challenge.”
Added Lenox, “He’s definitely tapping into an area in band where you don’t find that kind of music.” Bassoons, oboes and French horns don’t usually play this kind of music. She described it as both “terribly hard” and “really fun.”
Other pieces planned for the concert are folk tunes “Irish Tune” (O Danny Boy), “Be Thou My Vision,” a hymn with an Irish feel, and “Chorale and Shaker Dance.”
“They’re very accessible to our audience,” Lenox said.
The opening song will be “Funiculi Funicula,” which she called the spaghetti song. This, she said, is a variation on it. “It’s definitely something you’re going to be humming when you leave.”
Two other pieces on the program are British-style, “Moorside March” and “Vanity Fair,” which Lenox described as “overture-like.”
“This totally recharges my battery. I get to drive this Porsche for six weeks in the summer,” Lenox said of conducting the group of accomplished musicians. “It makes me so much better as a teacher in the fall. I filled my bucket and I’m ready to give, give, give to my students.”